- Category: Guest
- Published on Friday, 13 August 2010 07:12
- Written by Terver Atsar
- Hits: 2143
The season of election in Nigeria is usually the time when politicians tell lies with impunity. In fact even without elections in the horizon, one would be exhibiting extreme naivety if he dares to take Nigerian politicians by their words. Listening to a Nigerian politician could be the most disappointing experience for anybody who seeks for substance in their words.
One famous Tiv elder, the grandfather of Col. Joseph Akaahan, Gen. Yakubu Gowon's first Chief of Army Staff, Late Pa. Agbo Kpire, was reputed for popularising the saying ‘zwa kaa kwagh mom ga’. Literally meaning the ’mouth does not say only one thing’. He was alluding to the liberty of humans to change their minds, when circumstances change or perhaps more facts become known on a matter. For the average Nigerian politician, this allusion is a creed, a code of conduct and indispensable tool for political permutations and manipulation.
Two factors combine to promote this trait to a culture; one is the lack of political ideology on the part of the politicians hence the ease with which they move from one political party to another. There is no set of core values that guide their political conduct. They talk so much but say so little of worth. Take the issue of unemployment for instance; none of the Presidential contenders have articulated their strategy to tackle the menace based on sound economic analysis, policy strategy and framework. None can really identify the core issues as regards unemployment vis-a-vis the Nigerian society. They for instance could prevaricate by saying; ‘we shall create more jobs for Nigerian youth to minimise crime’, without telling us how?
The other factor is like onto the first; lack of the will or impetus and empowerment on the part of the people to hold politicians accountable for their words; to insist on having an enduring ideology upon which they are governed. The resultant effect is that both the people and the leaders are equally vulnerable to deceit. While the people are deceived by the leaders, the people in turn deceive the leaders. Because they are surrounded by sycophants, there is a dearth of genuine feedback on their performance or lack of it, which creates a delusional flux within which our leaders dwell in perpetual amnesia to the needs of the people they pretend to lead.
One lie that our leaders are frequently told is that they are the messiahs. This one is like music to their ears. They love to be revered like gods. With time such leaders begin to feel indispensable while of course their political opponents become dispensable (disposable) by any means possible. Once the sycophants convince them that they are God-sent, they in turn impress it upon the ordinary man that they are indeed the savoir! Every Nigerian leader, both military and civilian, has at one time or the other fallen into this trap, usually set up by political jobbers for their culinary interests. Jonathan is the current target for this cycle of deceit.
For Jonathan, their job has been made even easier by the rare coincidence of his name (Goodluck) and the circumstances that brought him to power. Thus it is easy to convince him that he is the divine leader anointed by God to take Nigeria to the Promised Land. One politician declared that anyone who attempts to ‘challenge’ Jonathan is challenging God! To this comedian, Jonathan is God’s servant sent to redeem Nigeria and so whoever competes against him (in an election) is running a race against God! This is pure blackmail and deception of a religiously gullible society.
Crass opportunism is being cloaked in the shroud of divine destiny and providence.
The other lie that Jonathan has been fed with is that Nigeria has outgrown the need for zoning of political office. They extend this lie by asserting that allowing Jonathan to contest the 2011elections would indeed lift Nigeria out of ethnic politics and set her on the path of merit driven democracy. Jonathan himself has been making comments to the effect that Zoning is synonymous with ethnic politics and should be abandoned.
But logically, being a product of zoning, the only way Jonathan could convince us that he does not believe in zoning anymore is to decline to contest. By doing so he would have allowed the country to start on a clean slate; he would have created a level playing field for contestants to emerge from anywhere in Nigeria and win purely on merit. But dropping zoning with the aim of becoming the beneficiary amounts to shifting the goal post in the middle of a game, it is mere hypocrisy and opportunism.
At the head of this campaign of opportunism, are the PDP Chairman Ezekwelesi Nwodo, and a former Chairman, of the Party, Solomon Lar. Lar has put forward very bizarre arguments to prove that Zoning is of no relevance anymore to the stability of the polity, which it was intended to create at inception. For instance Lar says that zoning was meant to assuage just the South-west over June 12 and it has outlived its usefulness. The question Lar would need to answer is why it would take the death of Yar’Adua for him to realise that Zoning has outlived its relevance? Besides Yar’adua’s death which socio-political indices have changed so radically within six months to have lifted Nigerian above zoning? While it is easy to understand why Nwodo would stake his neck, even promising to die in pursuit of the Jonathan project, it is difficult to comprehend why an elder like Solomon Lar would begin to lie profusely and shamelessly deny the truth about zoning of which he was a key architect.
Another lie, the politicians are telling is that Zoning only targets the office of the President and maybe perhaps his Vice. Thus when they make a case for the abrogation of the zoning formula, they limit it to the Presidency; nothing is said about the office of the Senate President, Speaker of the House, and several other high-positions. Nobody considers the possibility that once zoning is removed, these other positions would also be affected. What this means is that it will become possible for all of these positions to be occupied by members of the same family!
Perhaps one of the most intriguing yet not-so-smart half-truth being bandied around by the pro-Jonathan (anti-zoning) protagonists is that since Zoning is a PDP affair, it should not be elevated to national importance. The problem with this postulation is that even those who make it do not believe it, because if they did, they would also have left the matter in the hands of PDP by not calling for abrogation of the Zoning formula as doing so amounts to dabbling into PDP’s internal matters. That they find it important to call for removal of zoning denies them the moral right bar others from canvassing for it!
When they argue that Zoning is anti-democratic, they forget that we have over 50 political parties which have not adopted zoning. What this means is that the voters have a choice to vote for the party that presents the best candidate if PDP puts forward an unacceptable candidate using their Zoning formula. Therefore it does not make any sense to suggest that because PDP adopted zoning Nigerians are denied the opportunity to select a leader on merit. Political parties all over the world are built on some ideologies which they hold sacrosanct. If PDP believes in zoning but Jonathan does not (at least at this time) then let him leave the party and join another rather than destabilise a system that helped him up the political ladder with his presidential ambition. This will be an opportunity for him to also test his popularity and acceptability to the people outside of ‘good luck.’
That Jonathan has bought into these lies is evident in his body language. He does not appear like someone who has a short time within which to make some impact on the welfare of the people and leave the stage. Jonathan is simply not in a hurry to tackle power for instance, even though he in a grandstanding fashion took over the Ministry of Power on assumption of the Office of The President, as if he had some magic wand he intended to apply. He is not in a hurry about the promised electoral reforms. In short he doesn’t see himself vacating Aso Rock anytime soon.
With the prospects of an 8 year tenure ahead of him, and a horde of political beggars begging him to contest, Jonathan can indeed afford to party with the national till. Other things can wait while he cerebrate his good luck! In the dawn of his ascension to power, a season when a serious leader would be taking stock of the challenges on his hand, he assembled a gargantuan team of presidential aides, Ministers And Senators of the Federal Republic on a football jamboree to South Africa.
I hear that Jonathan plans to spend N17billion to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our Nationhood; a nationhood that is sharply divided, whose survival is even threatened, by his personal ambition.
Many have questioned the rationale for such frolicsome extravaganza at a time when unemployment and insecurity have hit the rooftops, kidnapping has become a profession for our youth and infrastructural decay is a permanent eyesore in every sector of the economy. But these critics are mistaken because they expect too much from Jonathan. Jonathan himself has no clue what his responsibilities are and what strategies he could explore to bring a positive turnaround in these developmental indices. The only thing he knows is what he has been told by his admirers; that he is a messiah of some sort with divine a mandate worth cerebrating. This is what matters.
Minister of Finance, Olusegun Aganga, obviously in a tongue-in-cheek explanation, said that public perception that the planned anniversary jamboree is wasteful is wrong because the expenditures are tied to capital projects. It doesn’t take a lie-detector to figure out the deceit. Each of the so called capital projects he mentioned fall under one ministry or the other, and those ministries already have a capital vote in the 2010 appropriation, why would these projects not be executed by the respective ministries. If he says the projects were not contemplated in the ministerial budget proposals, then it means their sudden appearance on the top of the scale of preference is an afterthought and this calls into question the dexterity of the Ministers who sit on top of these ministries. It’s amazing how the political culture in Nigeria could easily transform a highly respected technocrat like Aganga into a string-puppet.
It will be quite an interesting phenomenon to watch Jonathan in charge of his the campaign train for the very first time in his political career. Nigerians would be eager to hear him elucidate his agenda and inform the voters of his performance record as the basis for giving him their votes and not just the gabble about a divine messiah. But they will be disappointed because they would only be told all kind of lies as campaign promises; after all this is the season of lies.